By- Khushi Bisht
New York, also known as the ‘Big Apple’ or the ‘City That Never Sleeps,’ is one of the busiest cities in the world. New York City has had many names and leaders since it was first colonized by the Dutch, followed by the British, and finally, attained its independence alongside the rest of the United States. In this post, we will look at the past of this bustling metropolis and how it came to be known as “New York.”
History dates back to the seventeenth century. In order to establish a Dutch Colony, the Dutch West India Company in 1624 bought Manhattan island from the Lenape Indian Tribe. The Lenape are a community of Native Americans who lived in the area that now encompasses New York City. The region was given the name “Lenapehoking” by these indigenous people.
The Van Bergen farm, 1733, near Albany, New York, distinctively Dutch. Wikimedia Commons
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The land was also known as “New Angouleme,” a name given to it by Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano in honor of France’s first king, Francis I. Soon after, the Dutch established a colony and a trade settlement on the southern end of Manhattan Island naming the region “New Amsterdam,” in honor of their homeland’s capital.
The Dutch established the “New Amsterdam” in 1625 and expanded the colony from the southern end of Manhattan to what is now known as Wall Street (Dutch: de Waalstraat). The name of the street comes from a huge wall built by the Dutch colonists to keep the Native tribes out of the region. The wall also shut out the British, who competed with the Dutch in trading and settlement of the US.
Depiction of the wall of New Amsterdam on a tile in the Wall Street subway station. Wikimedia Commons
The turning point came in 1664 when four British combatant ships carrying large numbers of troops arrived in New Amsterdam’s port and ordered the Dutch to surrender the territory. New Amsterdam, on the other hand, was captured by the British. Following that the Dutch director-general Peter Stuyvesant retreated without violence.
The English took possession of New Amsterdam, and both the English and Dutch colonists coexisted happily. The British renamed the city of New Amsterdam to “New York” for the glorification of the Duke Of York. And from here, New York City, the most famous city in the world was born.
New Amsterdam in 1664. Wikimedia Commons
However, the Dutch reclaimed possession of the colony in 1673 putting an end to the British rule for a brief while, but under the Treaty of Westminster a year later, it was officially surrendered to the British.
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In 1783, a treaty was signed between the United States and Great Britain, officially ending the American Revolutionary War and recognizing the United States’ independence from the British crown. As a result, New York became the first capital city of the U.S, and in 1987 it was recognized as the 11th state of the nation.
The multicultural past of New York is intertwined. The city’s Dutch roots can still be seen there. The names of New York City’s five most popular boroughs The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island, represent this combination of Dutch and English settlement.